Negotiating the Photography Minefield

This article first appeared in Foundations Revealed in 2013

I think I’ve given myself a job here but I’ve volunteered to help steer you through the complicated area of photoshoot types and photography usage rights and some associated issues. Now I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on this. I’ve encountered few problems personally as most people I’ve worked with have been great. But I’ve had a lot of discussion on it, have chatted with some knowledgeable photographer friends and thrown in some of the experience from my previous life in graphic design.

So, to start with we’ll have a bit of an overview then break down the types of shoot set ups you might be involved in. Look at the pitfalls and benefits of each then I’ll run through some of the things to ask and things to watch out for. And also talk a bit about how to cover yourself. Now I want to stress that I’m based in the UK. I’ve tried to avoid anything too legally specific as much as I can, and have stuck with general advice, but do some reading and check up on the laws in your own part of the world. Copyright law does differ.  There are also differences as regards things like emails being accepted as written contract. So check that out.

The first thing I’m going to stress is this; find yourself a photographer that you can build a good working relationship with. It’s far easier to give and take and to approach a photographer you get on well with.  A photographer could be the most wonderfully talented artist, but if they’re a pain in the backside to work with then they aren’t worth the headache. Believe me, there are lots of very good photographers out there so finding someone, or even a few, you can work with happily, whom you can trust, shouldn’t be that difficult and is definitely the key. Because the bottom line is that your photographer should take the lead with this situation, should guide you through and should make all the terms clear. However that sometimes does not happen, hence this article.

The main thing to remember is this:
The photographer always retains copyright.

This applies no matter what type of shoot it is. To purchase the copyright you’d have to be paying a huge amount of money and it would need to be specially negotiated, it rarely happens. What you are getting is usage rights, sometimes quite specific ones. Remembering that and knowing how far those rights reach is the key to avoiding disputes. Even on a paid shoot you are in effect paying for the photographer’s time, not a product that you then own. The use of the results is still controlled by them. Think of it more in the terms of music, rather than a tangible product. Now the fairness of that is another issue and is a subject that causes a lot of arguments. But for the moment we’re dealing with the situation as it stands.

Before you start
Prepare yourself. Familiarise yourself with the types of shoots. Think about what you want to use the images for and where you will want to use them. Also think about how you want them to look and gather references and prepare a moodboard.  I quite often make-up a Pintrest board, usually a private one, which is easy to add collaborators too and allows everyone to see your thinking. Of course if it’s a collaborative TF shoot that may not be appropriate or it may need to be considerably compromised.

Shoot types
TF, or TFP or Time for Prints/Portfolio
This is probably the first type of shoot you’ll encounter. You may be approached by a photographer, by a model or you may spot a casting on facebook or Model Mayhem etc. The point to these shoots is that every person involved gets creative input and everyone gets images at the end and nobody gets actual monetary payment. As soon as one of those elements shifts out of whack the potential for disagreements sets in. The best TF shoots are truly collaborations.

Low or no cost (other than your own costs)
Testing out people you may want to work with again
Unexpected results

Lack of creative control
Unexpected results
Images may be watermarked/branded with a logo

Usage: Usually pretty strictly portfolio, non-commercial. Stretching to social media sharing with full credits.  Equal for every participant. Many photographers will be fine with some other uses as long as the credits are in place. But always always check. Make sure your photographer is trustworthy and on the same page as you. If they get payment for that photograph at a later stage then in all fairness they should pass something back to the rest of the team. However that can be rather tricky to control. The thing to remember is check and credit, credit, credit. Credit everyone, credit the model’s auntie that sent cakes, credit the cat… ok I’m being facetious, but you get the gist. And make sure everyone else does too by the way.

An example of compromise on a TF shoot. The hair was something June wanted to expoeriment with, and although I wouldn’t have suggested it I did like the results. Image Jade Starmore, Towzie Tyke Photography Hair & Make-up: June Long Model: Melanie Long

An example of compromise on a TF shoot. The hair was something June wanted to expoeriment with, and although I wouldn’t have suggested it I did like the results. Image Jade Starmore, Towzie Tyke Photography Hair & Make-up: June Long Model: Melanie Long

TF mark 2!
(made-up name) Now, and this is when it gets complicated, TF shoots can started to diverge from pure and equal collaboration. It may be the photographer has a strong idea and wants people to help with that, or the make-up artist has a look they want to produce for a graded unit at college. Or it could be you, as a designer, that has a specific idea. But everyone must feel they’re gaining something for their portfolio to want to participate. The complicated bit is sometimes this set up can veer into situations that should really be paid and this can be contentious. There is too much of a culture of working for nothing across the creative industries, and TF shoots can be a red rag to a bull in some arenas. However if everyone is gaining something from it and knows where they stand then it usually works fine, especially if it’s a team that likes working together. However in all fairness, the person driving the idea should do the legwork for locations and in most cases shell out for any studio, travel expenses etc.

Low or minimal costs (other than your own) unless it’s you’re idea and you take on costs

Some creative control

Compromise unavoidable, you aren’t paying as such after all
Potential for disagreement
Possible watermarked/logo branded images

Same as before.
Non-commercial for all.

A shoot conceived, driven and funded by the photographer Rob Scott of  CSD_Images, celticshadows.co.uk.  Costume design by me.  Modelled by Kasumi Noir, who also  made the beautiful hair ornament.  An example of thoroughly  crediting all involved... and making  it look good into the bargain.   

A shoot conceived, driven and funded by the photographer Rob Scott of  CSD_Images, celticshadows.co.uk.  Costume design by me.  Modelled by Kasumi Noir, who also  made the beautiful hair ornament.  An example of thoroughly  crediting all involved... and making  it look good into the bargain.


To Loan or not to loan
From our point of view the most hands off version of this is the simple loan. Now this is a minefield all on its own and should be approached with extreme care. As soon as you make your presence known as a corset maker you will be approached with requests for loans. Usually from models and often miles away in another country/state/continent!  It is VERY easy to get bitten with this so work out your comfort level with it and proceed with caution. I’m not going to tell you what to do and don’t do as different things work for different people. But I will tell you my own personal conditions.

  • I don’t loan to models unless I know the photographer and it meets my other terms below
  • I don’t loan to anyone out-with reasonable travelling distance.
  • If I can, I prefer to attend the shoot
  • If I haven’t worked with the person before I charge them a deposit which I refund when the garment is back with me in good condition.
  • I make sure they sign something detailing the items they’ve borrowed and make sure I have their full contact details. This could be anything from a simple delivery note to a full release document. Depends on circumstances and your own approach.
  • I check who they are, who they’ve worked with etc. This is where networks come in.

These things are borne from experience. For instance, once when I started out I loaned to a very famous website that features alternative pin-ups.  This required me posting to the US at my expense to a known creative person (even has her own Wikipedia page) and in return I was to get the items featured in a video shoot, be credited and get a banner ad (which I supplied) on their very high traffic website. That fell through and it was to be a shoot instead which I would get shots from and the items returned. I never got the shots, nor did I get the items back. I think I got the banner ad, though I never saw it, as I did have spike of traffic to my own site. I emailed many times and got no response. Eventually I wrote it off to experience. So now nobody short of a major publication gets anything unless I could physically go to their door to demand it back!

Attending is a similar safeguard. I’m in effect acting as bodyguard for what might be a very expensive pile of garments! And I’m there to lace up. I’ve had one too many shots back of badly laced, or loosely laced corsets when I’ve not been able to hang around. Also it means if a model is being stroppy about wearing a corset (and some are) you’re there to perhaps leave it loose laced until the last minute, and ensure she doesn’t just swap it for a comfier outfit once you’ve left (has happened to me).

If you can’t attend then a returnable deposit means you at least have something to cover specialist dry cleaning (again, ask me how I know!). It also is an incentive for them to get things back to you promptly. Also the borrower should be paying any postage if they aren’t collecting in person (insured of course) and you really want the photographer to have insurance that covers sets/props/ costume.

It is a great way of getting a variety of shots for your facebook page with minimal cost and effort. You get to try out photographers too. But, it’s a gamble. There are shoots where you can’t use a thing, others where you love every one of them. But for no or mimimal cost it can be worth it. It’s just up to you to weigh up the options carefully and work out a way of handling it you are comfortable with and what level of control you need. For some that’s a flat out no to loans, which is fine too. Remember though, that should Vogue call you up looking for a loan for a spread then you’ll probably throw caution to the wind and that’s fine (and at that level you’ll be expected to). If you want proper exposure you sometimes have to learn to not be too precious about things because sometimes the opportunity is far more important than some slight risk to a corset. You can probably remake the corset but that sort of chance may never be repeated. So, it’s a balancing act, be cautious but don’t cut your nose off to spite your face.

Trying out creatives
Low or no cost
Surprising results you may not have thought of yourself

Risk of loss or damage
No creative control
The possibility of your work being out there, badly  presented in bad photographs Images never appearing Possible watermarked/logo branded images

As TF, very much at photographers discretion. You may only get shares on facebook and never get anything  sent to you. Or you may get a dropbox full of them.  Be clear about what you want from it.

A fine example of a loan that went better than I could’ve hoped. Styled by Holly Megan Baxter (a designer in her own right, currently half of the team behind the Hardwear brand), photographed by Gabriela Silveira. Modelled by Victoria Middleton. Hair by Heather Nelson and make-up, Stefanie Carroll. Shot at Chatelherault in Hamilton. As you can see it was successfully submitted to and featured on the Vogue Italia website.

A fine example of a loan that went better than I could’ve hoped. Styled by Holly Megan Baxter (a designer in her own right, currently half of the team behind the Hardwear brand), photographed by Gabriela Silveira. Modelled by Victoria Middleton. Hair by Heather Nelson and make-up, Stefanie Carroll. Shot at Chatelherault in Hamilton. As you can see it was successfully submitted to and featured on the Vogue Italia website.

Where things can go wrong:
I’ve linked a case between a photographer and a well known latex designer. This illustrates why you should never lend to the model unless you’ve discussed things with the photographer. Even when lending to a stylist it’s wise to make some contact with the photographer involved if you can. Because remember, the photographer will hold the copyright. Get the information, you don’t want to land up in court.

Remember that it isn’t just the photographer that could cause a problem regarding usage, it’s any member of the team, it could even be you! So ask about anything you’re in any doubt over and stick to agreements made.

Neither free nor conventionally paid. A small section as it varies too much according to circumstance to really give advice on. But we make a desirable, valuable luxury garment. Many models love corsets, some photographers do too. A shoot in exchange for a corset is a viable and relatively common way of working. Just be sure every party is happy with the equality of the transaction (including you). As for usage rights etc, I would treat this similarly to a paid shoot as you are giving a corset as payment, if it’s for the photographer. If it’s for the model then it’s an arrangement purely between yourselves. So that’s the free and trade variants, now to paid.

You as the client
Now a paid shoot is a different beast in many ways and in some it isn’t. If you commission a shoot you are the client therefore you brief the team creatively to the degree you want to. You have approval on location, model, styling. You get the shots you request and only you have the use of them. Unlike TF shoots, the other parties (photographer, model, make-up artist) don’t get to share images randomly unless you, the client, want them to. However, you do not get the copyright and your usage rights are not limitless. You must, MUST, clarify what the usage is with the photographer. In writing preferably. In the UK an email counts, but check that applies in your locale. If there is no contract then you’d be as well doing TF. I’ve broken down the main areas  you may need covered for usage.

I’ve broken it down to web and print. I would also add to establish how long these rights are for and if there are additional rates required.

Now this may all seem unnecessarily detailed but believe me it will be worth checking if  you land with a strict by-the-book photographer who throws a flaky on you for making a genuine mistake! It should be the photographers responsibility to ensure you are aware of the extent of your usage rights, however that often does not happen.  Sod’s Law guarantees that the time you don’t check these things will be the time something happens, so cover yourself.

An example:
You pay for studio lookbook type images. Everyone is paid, however you have no written contract and nothing informing you of usage rights. At short notice you get a phone call from a high profile media outlet asking to use one to promote you in relation to an even you are participating in. You say yes. The next day you are contacted by an irate photographer complaining about the use of the shots and their name not being credited on them.

Are they in the right?
Legally yes, morally I’d say no. The usage rights for those paid for lookbook shots do not automatically cover you for their promotional use on a third party website. That is a different category of rights. Crediting the photographer would not have solved that but probably would’ve smoothed the water due to the publicity gained. However, there was no contract, the photographer did not make the client’s licence to use clear, but as the copyright automatically resides with the photographer the lack of a contract means they are still covered but you are not.

Result: the photographer has lost a client and gained a reputation amongst the client’s peers as unpleasant to work with. The client has images she has paid for but feels uncomfortable about using but has gained a valuable bit of experience.

Lesson: if you’re paying out money (and it can be a tidy sum) get a contract.

Having paid shots that you are clear on your rights with means you have something to hand so you take advantage of those no time to hang around opportunities with complete peace of mind, such as this BBC coverage of the Oxford Conference of Corsetry. Even professional product shots like these are invaluable to have to hand and are a low cost option.

Having paid shots that you are clear on your rights with means you have something to hand so you take advantage of those no time to hang around opportunities with complete peace of mind, such as this BBC coverage of the Oxford Conference of Corsetry. Even professional product shots like these are invaluable to have to hand and are a low cost option.

In addition to your own rights check the model release/agreement has been arranged, which should be a given, but…

A model has rights over the use of their image. So that should be covered by a written agreement too. A model release as such is not actually needed legally I’ve been told (UK). What they should have though is an agreement of their own regarding the usage etc. If they’re an agency model that should be covered, but the agency may have some controls over usage that affect you, so another thing worth checking. Cover yourself too, you don’t want a model having power of veto over a shot you love on a paid shoot. Be guided by the photographer.

While on the topic of models, ensure she is over 18 and able to give permission herself. You don’t want an angry parent chasing you down. Especially for a corset model.

I would also clarify if the photographer is ok with the image being edited in any way by a party other than them and if they are ok with graphics use such as adding logos, removing backgrounds, overlapping text and so on. This should fall under categories already mentioned, but again, never hurts to check, especially as some photographers have real issues with this.

Now as a graphic designer this is a bone of contention for me. I have altered and adapted countless photos in my previous job. I fail to see how you can design anything other than the most basic brochure or a poster for instance without touching the image in some way. Whether it’s to add a logo, crop or do something more complex. I also can assure you any image sent to a publication will have some sort of image correction done to it to maximise compatibility with the press and paper stock being used. Many photographers seem blissfully unaware of this. But it’s definitely worth sounding out their views on what you can and can’t do to the image in a graphic design context. I do appreciate that an amateur could really mutilate an image and that a photographer may not want a pink sparkly model’s name over it for instance.

Other things to consider
In addition to the usage categories described above you’re going to want to agree the number of images, the format, the size. Also practical matters like what happens should one of the team not show up (these apply to TF shoots too).

When it comes to it, a professional and experienced photographer will be reasonable, knowledgable and will guide you through all this and it should all be obstacle free. It’s in their interest to make sure you’re clear on your mutual positions. The problems mostly seem to come from those who are more amateur than they believe themselves to be or who have egos that overtake their abilities.

Covering your own back
Remember you need some protection too. You’re entitled to ensure your brand cannot be misrepresented, and on a paid shoot that the image has some exclusivity to you. Make sure that is established. Make it clear what you need and what you want to use the images for. You don’t need to cover and pay for every eventuality (you can always get back to them later) but don’t limit yourself either. If the photographer isn’t supplying anything then draw up your own contract, or at least ask questions in emails that you then keep on file as proof the conversation took place (see note in paragraph 2 about your own country’s legal position). If you are in any doubt about any aspect then get legal advice.

On TF shoots be careful who you work with and keep an eye on the future use of the image. Nobody wants to see their corset on an ad for a strip club a year later, and it’s happened. Trouble is, protecting yourself against things like that can be tricky. However that garment is your property, your brand is your property and you don’t want a situation to arise that implies an endorsement from your company. If it’s a worry, get it in writing, you are entitled to impose your own conditions on any loan or TF collaboration.  If that’s not acceptable, move on to another professional. It’s your business too, and remember of all the creatives involved in a fashion shoot, designers are the minority and therefore in demand. If photographers want to shoot fashion, they need you. Corset makers are even more of a rare beast. I did read one photographer say that he’d tell anyone who asked him to sign something to take a running jump! Not a constructive attitude. But as above, if a contract would not be appropriate at least get it in an email.  If things do go wrong then you do have redress in some instances. For instance, if it is used by another corset company you may be able to pursue them for ‘passing off’. However this is going to depend on location and individual circumstances. Again, seek legal advice.

The very fact the photographer retains the copyright potentially puts the other creatives involved at a disadvantage. The photographer very definitely holds the cards. Now in most cases that is fine. Most people are trustworthy and a dream to work with. But nothing is guaranteed. The only way you can maintain complete control is to take the pictures yourself , but obviously that is not ideal, there is no substitute for professional shots. However it’s no coincidence how many designers start out with straight, self-taken, mannequin shots on their websites and in their Etsy listings. If you have a decent camera, an eye for lighting etc you can pull this off. However, for modelled shots and when you want to step up your professionalism, you really do need the real deal. And to be fair, professional product shots are usually far superior to your own efforts.

The thing to remember is this: Unless you really are working with amateurs/ hobbyists everyone involved is a professional trying to earn some sort of living and everyone has costs. You have probably sunk a small fortune into getting those collection samples made, as well as your time (sanity!) and the cost of maintaining your skills. The photographer has the upkeep of equipment, the upgrading of skills and a considerable amount of time editing. The model has to maintain her physical self and keep on top of her skills (never underestimate the value of a good model). Make-up artists and hairdressers have their materials and time spent creating and perfecting the concept. All parties should respect that in each other and work out fair agreements for all. Pay when you need to pay and expect reasonable rights to the results when you do. When it’s TF, compromise and allow everyone their input. Most of the time it works great, and having the knowledge to back it up helps that to happen. 

A self-taken effort by me, passable but not great.

A self-taken effort by me, passable but not great.

Some useful links:
These are UK links, mostly passed on to me by a photographer friend, but check them out, once you know what you’re looking for you should be able to find ones relevant to your location to double check your particular position.

A note on contracts in the UK. As far as I know this will be similar in the US but please check. http://www.bluefinprofessions.co.uk/news/an-exchange-of-emails-could-create-a-binding-contract

An overview of licensing and copyright for photographers http://www.photoassist.co.uk/fullarticle.asp?ano=1161

This is helpful in seeing how categories differ http://www.londonfreelance.org/feesguide/index.php?language=en&country=UK&section=Photography

The copyright law website:

It’s worth contacting the Law Society to get hold of a IP solicitor in cases of dispute and/or when forming a contract with a major company.

Tools for keeping track of images you have an interest in:
http://www.picscout.com/ (for stock photos).

Design For Print - General Printed Materials

This article first appeared in Foundations Revealed in 2013

So,  we covered basic logo design last time. In this article I’m going to look at general artwork requirements. The sort of stationery you’re most likely to use and how to prepare artwork for it and also how you should approach press ads etc.

A wee reminder of my background before corsetry took over. After a year or so work experience in an ad agency and a design consultants  I qualified with an HND in Design for Print. This was way back in the early 90s when Macs were tiny and we still used floppy discs and type scales. I then started work for a newspaper publisher as a Mac operator and then carved out my own niche as graphic designer which then led to a small design department until centralisation and redundancy gave me my exit. By then I’d had enough of sitting in front of a Mac screen.

Ok, I’m assuming you now have your logo and you’re happy with it. It’s all nicely designed and you have a few versions tucked away in a folder to draw from for different applications. But a logo isn’t much used without something to put it on, and we can’t do all our promotion and contact on the web.  Sometimes we need something more physical and tangible.

What do you need then.
Well first and foremost the basic is a business card. Even if you use other material for customers you’ll need business cards for networking and just generally tucking in your pocket or bag just in case. Also design it cleverly and it can double as tag!

All you need is a simple design on A4 with your full details (website, registered address, phone number, email)

Promotional literature:
postcards, leaflets, brochures, flyers, posters, banners and pop-up banners. All can be as simple or as elaborate and you desire (and can afford).

Other items such as labels, packaging, tags.
Some of these you can so yourself if you have a decent home/office printer. Others are simply logos applied to different materials so really only require a good vector logo as covered last time.

Successful business cards
A business card has to do a job first and foremost. Like any piece of graphic design, it has to get the message across. In this case it’s who you are, what you do and how you can be reached and, very importantly ‘remember me’. If you do a google search you’ll find sites full of amazing and innovative business cards. Some are very successful but some are totally impractical. For a start I’m assuming you’re working on a fairly tight budget, well complex cuts, textures and fabrication cost money. Also you have to think about retention. A fancy shape might not fit in a wallet so just gets thrown away, or a design might result in a card so fragile it falls apart quickly. I’ve also thrown away cards picked up at networking events because I haven’t a clue what the company actually does because the card is so obscure. Thing is that business card is doing nothing for you from the bottom of the bin. 

You do want your card to look good and also feel good. A lot of the perception of quality comes from touch so a nice strong, stable card with a pleasant texture is going to say more positive things about you than a thin flimsy thing from a ‘print your own business cards’ machine on the station concourse!

I opted for a double sided card. It costs a little more but the addition of a small image on the back really adds something I feel.  I still have lots of white space on there though so I can write on it, something to think about before designing a dark, dense double sided card. I also punch a hole in the corner thread a ribbon through and use the back for fibre and cleaning details and it magically becomes a tag with my full details on it.

Lovely letterheads
Letterheads are fairly self-explanatory. Again think about the paper you use. Standard printer paper is fine for most things but keep some heavier weight paper or perhaps a classier plain or laid paper on hand to give a classier result when needed. I don’t think many small businesses go to the expense of having letter-headed paper printed these days. Home printers are such good quality now that you can get perfectly acceptable results as long as you use nice paper. Have all your relevant details on your letterhead. You must have your registered place of business. Treble check your spelling, something you should do with everything (but if anyone spots an error here keep it to yourself, nobody likes a smart alec haha!) and again, as with everything, pay attention to your choice of typeface. Once it’s set up you can use it as a basic frame for your invoices, contracts and all you general stationery. You can also think about Complement slips when you’re doing that.  Or you may want to use a postcard or card for that. So that’s your basic corporate identity package dealt with.

Promote, promote
I’d say most of us get most use of the small promotional materials like postcards and flyers. As soon as you do a wedding show or any type of selling or promotional event you’ll need something to hand to people. Personally I like postcards as I think people keep hold of them longer. Pick a really nice photograph of your work, add your logo if you wish and keep the text on the back.

Flyers can have a bit more info and perhaps more images. But don’t over clutter.  Then next steps up are leaflets and brochures. Anything from a simple folded sheet up to complicated multi-page affairs can be done but I’m assuming it’s most likely to be the simpler options at the moment. If you do decide to have a lookbook printed up then I’d strongly suggest getting a professional in as it must look classy and professional and you don’t want money wasted because of a simple error.

Up and up and up
Posters, banners and pop-up banners are all useful. Pop-up ones that spring out from a cylinder to give you a tall, narrow, self-supporting sign are ideal for wedding shows etc. They’re also fairly reasonable to have printed.  This is when the vector type I was talking about last time comes into play as you need that type to scale up substantially. Also this is when keeping file sizes manageable gets a little tricky as you need to supply a big enough image  to use at this size without degrading. However the printer will give you guidelines as sometimes it can be surprising. I’ve designed large format posters in the past such as billboards and trackside boards and they are surprisingly low resolution as they’re intended to be seen from a distance. However ideally you still want your type to be vector.

Designing for printing.
The basic rules for all these media are the same.

  • Ask the printer for specifications. They’ll tell you what resolution they need images to be, what file formats they prefer. They may even provide you with a template to drop your artwork onto. If you don’t want to they’ll even design it all for you, for a charge of course.
  • Check your spelling. Nothing says unprofessional like spelling errors and bad grammar.
  • Make sure your images are big enough. You’re looking at images being around 300dpi at actual size in most cases but that takes it back to rule 1. Postage stamp sized images will stay postage stamp sized and remember what looks fairly big at 72dpi on your computer screen will be much smaller at print resolution.
  • Keep it legible (I know I banged on about that one last time, but it’s no good to you if nobody can read it).
  • Embed or outline your fonts. As discussed last time, you can’t rely on sending the font to the printer. If they’re anything like my old company we were strictly forbidden to put an outside, unofficial font on our Macs.
  • Add bleed. The printer will tell you how much and if there’s a provided template there will be an indicator of it. Basically bleed just ensures that your background or image covers the full area if you want it to. Without bleed there’s every possibility a sliver of white could be left at the edges.
  • CMYK!

Template showing - from outside in - bleed, trim line and the safe margin for types. The dotted line is a fold line.

Now you may find when you price up printing for promotional items that your confronted with two price options. One for digital printing and one for litho. Digital printing works best for short runs but if you require a lot of flyers for instance then litho may be cheaper. Offset litho is the method used for large run print jobs such as newspapers. The set up is complicated and expensive as plates need to be made up and the press set up with ink for each colour. And although computers have eased this it’s still more involved than digital. However once the set-up is done thousands of copies can fly off the press. It’s therefore far more cost effective for large runs.

This brings me rather neatly to dealing with newspapers and magazines. I worked for years in newspapers and part of my job involved setting adverts for customers. We designed and laid out the ads for everything from tiny 3x1 ads to full colour double page spreads. Those customers weren’t charged any differently for a fully designed ad than if they sent their own artwork in so consider that if you’re thinking of putting an ad in and aren’t very comfortable with doing the artwork yourself. But do bear in mind the quality can be very variable and with departments shrinking and becoming more pressured and more mechanised you may not get the same quality of service as once existed. But it does make life easier for you, and I have to say, often for the pre-press department too. In my years there I’ve seen logos sent in on crushed carrier bags, and with the usual pen marks and staples through them, pictures sent as the 3k link thumbnail instead of the full image (that was a common one) and so many variations of horrendous ads done in randomly inappropriate software packages (and I include Word in that) that we just had to pull apart and re-set anyway.

When you send in artwork it will probably go into a dropbox to apply standard actions on it to colour correct it for the newspaper’s settings. It will then go through another computer  before it goes to film and then to plate. With increasing computerisation and fewer staff it’s entirely possible a font will default or a mistakenly RGB picture will turn black and white. These things don’t always get noticed so be very careful in your checks before sending it in and check required specifications before you do (they will have a spec sheet with everything on it).

Here are some things to look out for:

  • Print resolutions can be anything from 200 to 340 dpi. Our newspapers were 200dpi. your images must be the appropriate dpi at actual size. Too small and they’ll turn to blurred and pixelated smudges. Too big and you’ll cause yourself unnecessary difficulty in sending it.
  • Papers are printed on low quality paper which can experience ‘dot gain’ where the ink dot spreads making it less legible. You can often set your photo-editing software to allow for this to some extent but it’s crucial that you’re careful about type size. We had a minimum of 6pt in most typefaces but you could get away with 5pt depending on the font and how important the content was.
  • Right hand pages are always the most desirable.
  • Be very, very careful about images and graphic elements. DO NOT use anything you don’t own unless it’s clearly marked as free to use.  You might think nobody will find out but believe me the big companies do. It’s amazing how some US conglomerate can track down an image in a tiny ad in a  local newspaper in a small Scottish town. I’ve seen it happen (coughcoughDisney).
  • Don’t expect magazine quality from a newspaper.  Colour and clarity may not be quite true, the printing plated may be slightly out of register and sometimes ink transfers between pages. If it’s very bad you may be able to push for a free ad but basically don’t expect too much from newsprint. Magazines on the other hand will be printed on better quality paper and more time will be taken in the production therefore quality should be higher generally.

Here’s a good wee example of a slight problem. The Kris Kristoffersen ad hasn’t quite taken the mediun into consideration in that the type is dark with poor contrast to the black background. On glossy magazine paper this would probably be fine but on newsprint, not so good. It gets away with it here because this is a quality broadsheet printed on good paper but on a cheaper tabloid it would be a difficult read. The Primal Scream ad is a better design for a newspaper.

Images for editorial
If you’ve been asked to supply images and copy for editorial then the principles are just the same. Make sure you have good quality images at a high enough resolution.

I hope I’ve been of some help. It’s a big topic and I can only give a broad overview here. But I hope I’ve been able to help you avoid the most common pitfalls.

Design For Print - Logo Design

This appeared as an article in Foundations Revealed in 2013, so I've slightly updated it to share with you.

For anyone going into business the first thing you think about is your name, and subsequently that name in any visual form becomes a logo.  Now, we aren't talking here about branding as a whole, which goes into the full theory of presenting your public face to the world. I’m here to help you with the practical. I’m assuming some basic familarity with a graphics program, no matter how elementary. I’m most familiar with Illustrator but I’ll keep it nonspecific as software use isn’t the point of this.

Some background. Before concentrating on corsetry I was a graphic designer. I worked for 18 years in the newspaper industry and before that did some of the manual  junior work in a couple of agencies. I astarted in graphics when it was still letraset and repro cameras, and Apple Macs were  mystical rare things that lived in darkened rooms.  As someone who has seen the profession undermined by the prevalence of home desktop publishing packages, I would of course say to use a professional when you can but I appreciate it isn’t always possible. However most printers will offer a design service and if you’re advertising in a magazine or newspaper then they should too. However I’ll go into advertising, brochures and so on at a later date. For now we’re talking logos. 

Why do you need a professional looking logo? 
Peers, professionalism, seriousness, quality
It’s more than likely the first thing you see. It’s a representation of you, your brand in black and white. People have to read and remember your name from it, so it must be legible (something I’ll be returning to again and again). If it’s shoddy, broken up, unprofessional then people may very well think you are too.

What do you want to say about your brand?
Demographics, colour theory, typefaces
 won’t dwell on the psychology here. But have a really good think about who you want to attract and how you want to attract them. Your choice of typeface is crucial, as is colour. A heavy, blocky face or a slab-serif is masculine and aggressive. A script can be feminine and soft. It can be elegant or casual, even punky.

Colour, letterspacing, rules and other graphic devices all make a difference. Conservative and classic, young and fun, gothic, historical, alternative, fetish can all be suggested with font and colour.

These say very different things (not all of them good)

What to look for and what to avoid
Gimmicks, bad fonts, bad typography
There are simple rules to good use of type.
Keep it legible
Use novelty fonts with care.
Never use display/fancy/script fonts in all uppercase
Don’t mix lots of fonts.
Try to keep within one or two complimentary font families
Oh yeah, and legibility again
Rules are made to be broken (requires skill and care)

The golden rule is legibility. Your logo is useless if it’s unrecognisable.

There are countless fancy fonts, and many of them are very eyecatching. But approach with care. Not only are you risking the legibility factor, but the fancier the font the shorter the lifespan and the more risk of it looking amateurish. Many of these fonts can end up looking twee or childish. They can summon up images of tacky shop signs, that downmarket hairdresser round the corner or the worst internet excesses of the MySpace pages of old. Of course a clever designer could employ them with tongue in cheek irony and make them work. That’s a tricky gamble though. For most of us it’s better to underplay things. Maybe use that novelty font as an initial or a monogram and then something simpler for the remaining lettering.

And of course – 

Also be very careful with how you handle that type. Don’t stretch or squish fonts. Somebody has spent time carefully crafting the design of every one of those characters. You distorting that font would be like someone taking your corset design and chopping a bit off it.

While we’re on fonts, check out the licensing. When you download a font there will be a read me or a doc with it detailing the allowable usage. If you download from one of the very many free font sites on the web there’s a fair chance that the originator will have specified non-commercial use only. If you’re in any doubt pay for your font. There are decent free fonts about but just check out the usage carefully. This is your business, don’t start it off on a wrong note. You can of course use one of the standard fonts on your computer. There’s nothing wrong with the classics like Times New Roman. They aren’t world shaking but, like a painter using a limited palette, restrictions can make you more creative. And if it sends the message you want to send then it’s perfectly appropriate.

Spaces and refinements
Spend some time on the details. Rattling off a word in a typeface can lead to some odd letterspacings, especially in script typefaces and between certain characters.

This font was typed straight in and obviously that gap after the F has to be closed.

If you find manipulating individual letter spacings using the character tools tricky then try outlining your type (as discussed below) and moving the individual letters point by point until they’re perfect. I usually resort to the old squint through half closed eyes trick to judge it.
The other thing to watch for is letterforms with ascenders and descenders and be very careful to avoid clashes.

To make this work all I did was move Crikey to the right and down so the y and h interlocked and made the C and the A a little bigger and shifted them slightly. A quick tweak but it sorts the clash of characters out and makes a feature of the interlocking ascender and descender.

Try to find a pleasing balance between the various words in your logo. Play around with sizes, perhaps enlarge an initial letter. Fit smaller type in suitable spaces and pay careful attention to lining things up.

Don’t rule it out
Don’t undestimate the effect of basic graphics like lines and boxes, or as one of my old tutors said, recto-linear frameworks! One of my favourite designers was always Vaughan Oliver and as I was at college in the early 90s the curved box he tended to favour often crept into my work. Pixies album covers were a big influence!

Adding pictures
Small illustrations, whether realistic or abstract can be very effective but be very aware of how they work at different sizes. Be wary of small detail that will vanish at a small size or on a rougher paper. And make sure it is perfect and sharp or it will look dreadful at a large scale.

The technical considerations
Reproduction in mono & colour, scaleability, 
In these days of web centric design it’s easy to forget about print limitations. But you’ll get brought up short if you want to put an ad in a local free paper or take out an ad in a programme or fanzine where the budget isn’t stretching to full colour printing.

I was always taught to design a logo in mono. A good design should work on the simplest terms. Think of someone photocopying a page with your name on it. You would want your logo to be readable, to hold up even on a low quality black and white image. So design something in mono then add colour later so you have both options. Keep things clean and, that word again, legible. Having a set of logos to hand - mono, one colour, full colour – means you have something ready for all print eventualities.  I’d also suggest having copies in a spot colour, CMYK and RGB. But more on that later.

Vector v Raster
Why does it matter, what does it mean

In the most simplistic terms – vector images are mathematical patterns of lines. Raster images are made of dots. Programs like Illustrator use vectors and mean your logo could be scaled up to the size of a building with no degradation. But a raster image is restricted by the number of dots per inch. Photographs are raster images and if you enlarge them too far you’ll end up with something akin to a pop art image of huge dots. With vector images you don’t have to worry about resolution, with raster you do.

Enlarge a vector and you get this:

 Nice and clean and will work on a business card or a billboard.

Enlarge a raster image too far you’ll get something like this:

Image I don't.jpg

Pretty self-explanatory.

So, for a logo we want vector. When you see paths with the little clickable points in a program like Illustrator then you’re safe, it’s vector. That also goes for any image graphics you have as part of your logo, like a scroll or small illustration. 

Now obviously for web use things change. You’re dealing with pixels on a screen rather than print on a page. You have to save in formats that will suit the site you’re uploading too. So don’t worry about vectors in that instance. You’re saving to screen resolution, equivalent to 72dpi, usually to a specific size to keep the file size low.  

Preparation for print
You have your beautifully designed and perfectly honed logo and now you want to save it to send to your printer to pop on some business cards for you. 

Outline your type
No printer has every font ever made and to supply him with the font is illegal, unless it’s a completely free font of course. But it’s unlikely he’ll want to install every random font and in a larger company they won’t permit it. If you send a logo and they don’t have the font it will default to an ugly, mis-spaced screen font. So, make sure it’s converted to paths. In Illustrator, it’s under the type menu and it’s ‘create outlines’. 

There are three options. For screen use we work in RGB, the light primaries of Red/Green/Blue. If you’re putting something on the web RGB is perfect. 

But RGB will produce odd results when put through some printer’s software. The colours might go a bit odd or it might change to black and white. For print we work in CMYK, which is the ink colours of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black (K being used to avoid confusion, stands for ‘key’ or some printers will tell you it stands for kohl). For full colour work a plate Is created for each ink colour. On a basic job the paper is white. This is why a one or two colour print job is cheaper than full colour with traditional print methods. And also why all the cost is in the set-up and it’s cost effective to print high quantities. For small print jobs though, it’s often digital print rather than the traditional offset litho.

On the left, RGB and CMYK on the right

The other alternative is spot colour where  a specific ink colour, such as a pantone colour is specified. A spot colour is also the format if you want a metallic ink, or a varnish (glossy area on an otherwise matt job). When the colours are seperated out (literally) to make plates, a seperate plate is made for a spot colour, varnish or special ink.

Case study.... Me!
This is the logo for my company Crikey Aphrodite. I’m thinking of changing it soon but this is how it stands for now

.I’m very influenced by mid 20th century fashion so I wanted a typeface that looked rather retro and feminine so I chose Ribbon 131. I wanted a script but to maintain legibility. My name isn’t always easy to spell for some people so I wanted to avoid fonts that didn’t have a clear ‘r’  as many script faces don’t.

Below are a couple of images showing my logo on different mediums. It’s used on business cards, postcards, vouchers, banners, a rubber stamp and I have it set up on my embroidery machine too. A good logo should be versatile and work for you.

Please note, none of the font combinations in the article are proper refined logos, merely examples to show the pitfalls and give you food for thought. Play around with typefaces, think about what you want to say and have some fun. Look at other logos and think about how they link in with the business. Make a note of the things you like and what appeals to you. 

I hope this is helpful to you. I’ll be putting another article together on designing other promotional material and things to look out for when submitting to publications which will be along soon

OCOC14 - Crikey Aphrodite's "Queen" Corset

Image copyright Chris Murray Photography, featuring Evie Wolfe. Headpiece by Creations by Liv Free

Image copyright Chris Murray Photography, featuring Evie Wolfe. Headpiece by Creations by Liv Free

Written by Alison Campbell. 

The Challenge

Right at the start this year we had decided to each make a showpiece corset exclusively for the conference, but the form of that was vague at first. We were all chatting general conference plans one day when we had the bright idea to follow a theme, and the theme we agreed on was to be Jesus college itself. It was a lightbulb moment that went on to inform some of the class content. It was especially relevant to my inspiration class as I'd already planned on getting all the delegates out and about around the college.

The Inspiration

All my life I’ve been fascinated with the Tudors and Stuarts. Childhood holidays and day-trips usually involved visits to whatever castles were in the area. I collected the costume dolls sold in the gift shops and one of my earliest favourite books was a Jean Plaidy novelisation of the childhood of Mary Queen of Scots. I also have strong family links to Falkland where Mary Queen of Scots’ favourite palace and hunting lodge was (and is), a place with many happy memories. So as the leap from Mary to Elizabeth is a short one I rapidly decided on the Queen Elizabeth I portraits as inspiration. I gleefully announced my decision to go for Queenie to Julia, Jenni, Gerry and Marianne and especially my plan to use ALL the pearls! As after all you can’t go Elizabeth without a massive dose of pearliness (she even ‘acquired’ Mary’s rare black pearls).

The Design Process

Next step was to find source images, put them together on a mood board and take a good hard look again at those portraits.  I found I was more swayed to the smaller portrait in the Peter North Room, I liked that it was less ornate than the ridiculously overwrought gowns she’s usually portrayed in.

Portrait of Elizabeth I, 1590, artist unknown.

Portrait of Elizabeth I, 1590, artist unknown.

I didn’t want to actually replicate the period, after all we’re most of us in fashion corsetry rather than costume. Stays would’ve been a predictable route but way too literal. Also it had to suit the model I was going to work with. There is no way Evie’s generous assets were going to be done justice by a conical stays shape, those boobs need support. That took me straight to bust gores, straps and a sweetheart neckline. I decided to revisit the shape I’d been working on with the recent black gold corset as the multiple hip gores gives a dramatic shape and I’d been investigating a split bust gore for side support, so it seemed like a good option to pursue.


The Corset


Playing with fabrics: An earlier idea sketch: Playing wtih layers: Bead options.

Playing with fabrics: An earlier idea sketch: Playing wtih layers: Bead options.

One of the things that appealed in the portrait was the sleeve of blackwork embroidery. Whilst looking for something else I found my favourite local lace company produce a design in their cotton lace that is very close to the stylised florals of the time. They had two designs, a madras in almost exactly the same design and a lace in a slightly later, more Jacobite style. I ordered a metre of both and found the scale of the madras was too large. But the lace worked, and especially if I dyed it black to overlay on an off white silk, giving the impression of the blackwork without the hours of stitching.

I had already decided to use a leather remnant I had in a strange matt texture as it rather reminded me of old vellum. I’d gathered together various pearls and semi-precious garnet chips and other beads to work out my design.

I tend to work by sketching a design, then letting the materials take over and move on organically. Often the result ends up very different to the original. And so it happened with this. I went through a patch of utterly hating it. I’d chose a red suede for some contrast parts, and in retrospect I wished I’d chosen something more muted as the contrast was too much. I looked at it for days, pinning bits on, going away and coming back to it. I knew it would change once I beaded it but I could not get the visual back into my head. Then I overlaid some fine ivory lace over parts of it and it clicked back into place. Lace can be a useful blender, as well as adding texture.

The beading also took some playing about with. It went from an original plan of draped pearl strands, to pearl and crystal drops before growing into areas of solid pearl beading studded with garnets. I’m sure you won’t be surprised that I was sewing the last of those pearls on at 2am on Saturday morning before the conference started!

Fit without fitting

Freya bra in Evie's size padded out with custom made pads made from close woven fabric filled with micro beads (from a lumbar cushion)

Freya bra in Evie's size padded out with custom made pads made from close woven fabric filled with micro beads (from a lumbar cushion)

Fit was going to be crucial for this, and nerve-wracking.  Normally for a sample corset I work to a tried and tested pattern that seems to work pretty well on a wide range of models. The black gold ones I had Morgana shoot for me recently also were worn by local alt model Kasumi Noir and on the catwalk by some 6 feet tall agency  girls. But this approach wasn’t going to work with Evie’s curves. Due to the distance it was going to have to be measurements only and no fitting. So I got the measuring tape out, the bag of padding and bought a bra in her size. This is when my bra fitting experience is an advantage as I reckoned from pics she was on the top side of the bra size so I padded it out to the maximum. In fact in retrospect I realised her preferred bra runs a bit large so I was glad I picked the same brand, although a slightly smaller cut one. I found the rest of the adjustable mannequin didn’t need much in the way of padding as her measurements matched it pretty closely. I then proceeded by fitting the drafted pattern to the mannequin and used a flat pattern/drape mash up to get the final corset. The results weren’t bad at all. Had I had a mock-up fit obviously it would've been better, as supplied measurements are always a bit of a gamble.

Finished Corset

Image copyright Jenni Hampshire 2014

Image copyright Jenni Hampshire 2014

I was relieved to see the final piece come together in a way I was happy with, no mean feat considering I was fitting it in between client work, and the peak of the graphics work for the conference. I wouldn’t say it’s my best piece ever or the piece most reflective of my own aesthetic. Working to a theme stretches you and takes you out of your comfort zone to some degree. I learned some things from it, I tested out a bust cut that worked well on a full bust, and I did way more beading than I ever normally do. I felt it did answer the brief and had attitude to suit the inspiration source and the model.


Image copyright Chris Murray Photography, featuring Evie Wolfe

Image copyright Chris Murray Photography, featuring Evie Wolfe

The Photoshoot

The final stage was our all too brief photoshoot on the Sunday morning. Having met Evie the night before I was glad I’d gone with my instincts for something pretty dramatic. I don’t think she’ll mind me saying it just was more her than a refined and sedate piece would’ve been. I was nervous lacing it onto her, you always are when there’s been no chance to fit. But although it wasn’t quite perfect, it wasn’t half bad. The bust fit was good, gave her the support and coverage I wanted and the whole thing worked on her. I had intended to make a collar and skirt but ran out of time. We got some really nice shots, you can see a couple taken by Chris here, and I’m hoping to do a more styled shoot in the near future when hopefully I'll have all the other bits in place. So all in all, I’m happy with the result and the gains from the process. And I hope you’ve all picked up some useful info from it too. And of course I’m very much hoping that some of the designs being worked on in the inspiration class turn up next year as Jesus corsets of your own.

Don't forget to check the #ococ14 hashtag on Instagram and Twitter!


A place for lace

The hunt for good suppliers is always a mixture of frustration and elation as you follow the detective trail to find that elusive company that will offer you something different. Especially if like me you have criteria you try to meet. In my case both an extreme pickiness about quality and a desire to support local businesses for the knock on effect to the economy and the environment. Sometimes you want to keep the suppliers you find close to your chest but other times it pays to shout their name. This was the case with Morton, Young and Borland, or MYB Textiles.

Ecosse Noir outfit by Crikey Aphrodite featuring lace from MYB. Image copyright Louise Cantwell Photography, modelled by Kasumi Noir

Ecosse Noir outfit by Crikey Aphrodite featuring lace from MYB. Image copyright Louise Cantwell Photography, modelled by Kasumi Noir

MYB are a lace manufacturer based in Ayrshire, Scotland. They've been there for over a century and produce lace for some very exciting clients on original looms. No other company in the country is doing what they do. More on their history here, https://www.mybtextiles.com/history. Their lace has been spotted in Hollywood movies (the latest one, look for it in the nursery in Maleficient), and used by international designers. More locally they collaborate with interiors stars such as Timorous' Beasties and talented Scottish designers like Judy R Clark. It's just been reported that their latest big name client is clothing retailer, Hobbs.

I had looked at the website for a while but had hesitated to approach them. I shouldn't have worried, I was invited down for a visit, welcomed warmly with a cup of tea, given a tour and allowed to browse samples at leisure. It's developed into a good relationship where I've loaned them garments for showing as far afield as Moscow. It also was key to me being part of a local exhibition on lace and it's connection to the region. 

Exhibition on the history of lace in Ayrshire at the Dick Institute in Kilmarnock

Exhibition on the history of lace in Ayrshire at the Dick Institute in Kilmarnock

But now to the extra interesting bit, the tour. This was truly fascinating for anyone interested in textiles. To repeat, they've been around since 1900. The business has literally grown around the huge looms. The building is a maze of doors and stairs and rooms squeezed in where they can. Very easy to get lost in. Funnily enough it reminded me strongly of the newspaper office I used to work in, which was another old industrial building with no fixed layout which had grown around the heavy machinery. And I was struck very much by the similarity between the enormous blacked looms chugging away noisily in the heart of the building and the old printing presses that crouched into the dark and noisy press hall in the newspaper office.

Image copyright MYBtextiles.com

Image copyright MYBtextiles.com

The patterns are filed on huge punched cards the size of doors. Many of them original. Technology of course has also entered in as computerised design has taken over. This leads to an odd mix of hi-tech and tradition, the old and the new co-existing. Which rather sums up the use of the fabric too. Lace, the most 'antique' of fabrics being used in new and exciting ways.

The jet black looms rattle away either side of long access galleys with raised platforms. These looms are enormous, enabling them to be able to produce large widths for items on the scale of theatre backdrops. It's a strange contrast, this fine light cloth cobwebbing off the blackened iron. In another side of the hall the cotton madras unique to MYB is produced. And then through into a huge room where yards of cloth are hand checked by women bundled up in jumpers perched on tiny stools amid a sea of lace.

Image copyright MYBtextiles.com

Image copyright MYBtextiles.com

In another room curtain panels are made up, boxes of lace are everywhere and there's a cheerful atmosphere of a business where people work for years, not just a year before moving on. A company where the employees are as 'in with the bricks' as the machinery. I like that in a company, it's becoming rare.

At the end of the tour I was left among racks of samples to note and snap the ones of interest to me before popping back through to the office and design room (another familiar atmosphere for an ex graphic designer like me) for another cuppa and to discuss what would work for me.

A Crikey Aphrodite corset using cotton madras from MYB overlaid on copper metallic silk.

I would definitely recommend you research textile companies in your area and make contact. Not only is it interesting and educational, but it's building contacts and relationships like these that make a difference to your business. And of course, it can take you down unexpected routes in your own work, especially if you're like me and dictated to by the materials in your hands. But most importantly, it's these contacts that make your work stand out. Don't fall into the trap of always using the same suppliers and materials as every other corset maker. Find the difference and build on it.

Take a moment and watch the wonderful video above.

Behind the scenes at OCOC

(Taken from the OCOC Facebook page)

Today I thought I’d talk a wee bit about the behind the scenes of the conference and big up our boss lady, as she won’t do it herself 

The planning for this year started immediately after last years. We were so full of enthusiasm that the ideas were flowing fast, and in fact now there are already ideas on the go for next year, and plans being put in place. One of the wonderful things about OCOC is that we have such a tight little team. Julia is the boss it’s Julia’s conference and it’s her many, many, many years (a many too many? I’ll get my backside kicked for that haha) experience in the hospitality and conference industries linked of course with her experience as a corsetiere and as an unsurpassable teacher of corsetry that makes her uniquely able to work her way through the logistics and details to create an amazing conference. Having been party to some of the planning I know I couldn’t do it, I wouldn’t know where to start with some of the less obvious elements. It’s utterly daunting, believe me. But our Julia has done it while making it outwardly look like there’s nothing to it, which is most definitely not the case. And after all any grey hairs gained in the process are easily hidden.

Behind Julia is our little core team of friends and co-horts. Gerry, Jenni, Marianne and me (Alison).. Between us we have a fair whack of experience we can throw in to the mix. Not just in corsetry, and in our own corsetry businesses but in teaching and training, modelling, art, graphics and publishing. We also have different but complimentary interests in corsetry, from Jenni’s highly embellished art pieces to Marianne’s passion for quality ready to wear. But perhaps even more importantly we’re all friends and are all invested in building a supportive team that works together to produce this fab event. Having this tight team enables us to come up with a programme that exploits our own strengths, and very importantly, that we’ll enjoy sharing with you. Enthusiasm, our enthusiasm is vital.

What has been really exciting is seeing new people come into the fold and increase their involvement. Ian Frazer Wallace, our wonderful speaker from last year, (who along with the whirlwind of charisma that is Polly Fey made last year’s Saturday night a joy) will continue being part of OCOC Our wonderful models, headed up by boss model Morgana are a vital and glamorous part of the weekend, and our photographers of course. This year we’ll have the amazing Autumn Adame with us as speaker which is a treat we’re all looking forward to!

I can’t fail to mention the staff at Jesus College, especially the indispensable Luke. I think everyone who was there last year can testify to him being an absolute gem among men, as well as an outnumbered man among corset makers! The gorgeous, historic, idyllic venue is such a core part of the conference and the super-helpful team there help to make it that way. Then there are our fab and generous sponsors of course! And I think Julia’s husband Paul deserves a wee mention too for his support, as well as a fair bit of fetching and carrying!

So as you can see, it takes quite a few committed people, a shedload of skill and experience and a lot of love, passion and enthusiasm to bring you OCOC, and it’s what goes a long way to making it, not only the first of it’s kind, but truly inimitable.And you know what goes the rest of the way to doing that? You guys! Our wonderful attendees, whose skills, talents, warmth and again, enthusiasm were wonderful to behold last year. Here’s to 2014 and and beyond.(oops, didn’t mention the gin makers, they deserve some credit too!)

Alison (Crikey Aphrodite)